This question originally appeared on Quora: How do you organize your business plan into a neat and concise statement?
Answer by Peter Baskerville, Started 13 businesses with over 30 outlets in total and currently working on these in the educational space http://www.skillmaker.edu.au/, http://www.industryprofessor.org/ and http://nowmaster.com/, on Quora
One of the best ways to distill an extensive business plan into just one sentence is to describe your business in terms of an existing and well known business model. Maybe something like: "We plan to do for fresh fruit/vegetable juice what McDonald's has done for the fast food industry" (i.e. providing convenience, offering assortment and process standardization, heavily branded, growth via franchising) or "We plan to be the Mercedes Benz of furniture" (i.e. conveying the thought of top quality, reliable and safe).
While a single sentence may convey the overarching direction of your business plan, you may also need to develop an elevator pitch that combines a few additional concepts into a paragraph so that you can better describe your plans. Here is a 'paint by numbers' approach that may help you put your plan into a short 'elevator pitch'.
So, first determine answers to the following questions and then compile the answers in the template given below:
- (Name of your business)
- (A) What primary market is the business intending to enter? Identify the broadest market descriptor. i.e. "Insurance", "Hair care" "Furniture", "food and beverage".
- (B) For whom does the business exist? What broad category of target user are you targeting? i.e. "For (individuals, startups, SME businesses, corporate enterprises, Government Departments, Non-profit organisations, Government Agencies ..."
- (C) What are their burning problems that your offer is planning to solve? i.e. They " can no longer afford ...", "are tired of ....", "want safer ....", "need better performing ....", "desire a better looking .....", "need a more comfortable ......", "are looking for a longer lasting ....", "want the latest ......", "need to reduce the costs of .....", "want a more convenient ......", "need an easier to use .....", "want to indulge ..." or "want improved access to ....".
- (D) What specific key products (good/service) are you planning to provide to satisfy this burning problem? e.g. "pre-packaged sandwiches and espresso coffee", "gold plated fashion jewelry", "a building compliance audit service", "lawn care and edging service".
- (E) Who is the key product offer primarily targeted to? Many customers may benefit from your offer, but who gets the most value from your key products? i.e. lunch time office workers, day time laborers, stay at home mums, weekend holiday makers, travelling parents, growing startups, struggling small businesses, downsizing government departments.
- (F) How do the primary target users benefit? What's in it for them? Identify the tangible or subjective benefits. i.e. To "mitigate fear", "improve their self esteem", "gain increase confidence", "improve their status", "gain greater meaning", "satisfy an urgent demand", "find pain relief", "save time/money" or "grant an indulgence".
- (G) Where else have customers previously gone to satisfy their burning problems? What type of business is your main competitor for the primary target user? i.e. big corporations, solo operators, custom made specialists, supermarkets, mass producers ...
- (H) Why is your product offer different/better from other options? "Unlike ....."or "as opposed to .... (existing offers)" who don't do something or are very expensive or are unsafe or are not attractive or are outdated or are too slow or don't value something or hard to access or difficult to use.
Then put your answers in this template below to create your first 'elevator pitch' that you should keep refining until it can be delivered seamlessly and authentically:
.....(Business Name) ........ specializes in providing (A) .............. for (B) ...............who want (C) ............ offer. Our (D) ............ helps (E) .............. (F) .............. unlike (G) the .............. who are (H) .............
As an example of using this template for a pre-packaged sandwich shop planning to sell fine espresso coffee, you might describe your business plan in a short statement like this:
Earls specializes in providing (A) food and drinks for (B) individuals who want (C) a more convenient and healthier food and beverage offer. Our (D) pre-packaged sandwiches and fine espresso coffee help (E) daytime office workers (F) save time and indulge their exquisite taste desires unlike (G) the 'made to order' take-a-ways who are (H) slow to serve and don't value quality espresso coffee.
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